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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Saturday

Michael Chua

Michael Chua

Michael Chua is a basketball statistics expert from the Philippines. He has worked as a student manager for the University of Wisconsin Men's basketball team. He is also the basketball program consultant for his high school alma mater, Shanghai American School, in China.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Charlotte Bobcats at Chicago Bulls: Despite losing various starters to injury and trade, the Bulls have maintained their status as a top defensive team. Second only to the Pacers, the Bulls boast a 97.1 defensive rating (that is, opponent points allowed per 100 possessions). Capped with the fact that they play at an astoundingly low pace (93.16 possessions per game), the Bulls should have no problem playing against the similarly slow Bobcats who average 95.08 possessions per game and score just 96.7 points per 100 possessions. With the Bobcats struggling lately, going just 1-7 over their last eight games, it will be hard for daily gamers to take a gamble on Al Jefferson and company.

Offenses to Use
Phoenix Suns at Detroit Pistons: The Pistons have been playing rather unimpressive defense of late, giving up 105.4 points to opponents over their last seven games, including six games where they've allowed 106 or more. This isn't too surprising, as they are among the league's weaker defenses, allowing 104.7 points per 100 possessions. The Suns are a well-rounded squad with many offensive options, and despite the fact that it's anyone's guess who will light up on a given day, they could provide good value for daily play. Over their last three games, the Suns have had five players hit double-digits in scoring each day. Even without Eric Bledsoe (knee), Goran Dragic and the Suns have been on fire from beyond the arc, making them solid plays for Saturday's slate.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None

Second game of a back-to-back: Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards,

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
Brandon Knight (at OKC): Despite the fact that Knight is coming off a poor performance, he has shown the ability to explode on given nights. Saturday's matchup against the Thunder could provide him with a good opportunity, as Kevin Durant and company have been struggling to contain opposing guards. Over their last two losses, the Thunder have been torched from the wing: Randy Foye with 24 points and six threes, Ty Lawson with 16 points, seven rebounds, 14 assists, and three steals, and Gordon Hayward with 37 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists. With the Bucks using Knight as a combo-guard alongside Luke Ridnour, he'll have the opportunity to score and facilitate in different situations, making him a solid play for Saturday.

Other options: Goran Dragic (at DET), Brian Roberts (at DAL), Kyle Lowry (vs. BKN)

Shooting Guard
Victor Oladipo (at DEN): Oladipo has been just average over his last five games, posting 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.0 steals during that span. While his price tag is certainly higher than his current production's worth, Oladipo may have the opportunity to put up a solid game Saturday. With Arron Afflalo (ankle) a game-time decision for Saturday's game, Oladipo's usage rate is bound to increase if Afflalo misses the game. Consider him a solid pick for Saturday.

Other options: Monta Ellis (vs. NOP), Wesley Matthews (vs. BOS), DeMar DeRozan (vs. BKN)

Small Forward
Kevin Durant (vs. MIL): Durant has been tearing up the fantasy landscape since teammate Russell Westbrook (knee) hit the pine. He's averaging 34.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.2 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 2.2 three-pointers made over his last five games. With just a few high-end options at the small forward position in Saturday's tilt, consider Durant a safe pick for heavy investment. The Bucks give up 33.9 points (sixth-worst), 12.5 rebounds (fourth-worst), 6.0 assists (eleventh-worst), 2.8 steals (eighth-worst), and 4.1 three-pointers made (fourth-worst) to opposing eligible small forwards.

Other options: Josh Smith (vs. PHX), Paul Pierce (at TOR), Trevor Ariza (vs. HOU)

Power Forward
Dirk Nowitzki (vs. NOP): After playing the Pelicans just one day earlier, Nowitzki will have the chance to put up another solid performance for daily play. Nowitzki posted 24 points, four rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks in Friday's tilt at New Orleans, and he'll head home for Saturday's matchup, hoping to repeat with a similar performance. The Mavericks had the game in hand early on, which limited Nowitzki to just 28 minutes Friday. It is unlikely that Saturday's game will be another blowout for the Mavericks, and Nowitzki will have a chance to log his usual 30-plus minutes, making him a solid play.

Other options: Thaddeus Young (vs. NYK), Glen Davis (at DEN), Tobias Harris (at DEN)

Center
Andre Drummond (vs. PHX): Drummond is averaging 12.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks over his last five games. Saturday's matchup may be one that Drummond can exploit, as the Suns give up 17.2 points (sixth-worst) and 10.7 rebounds (sixth-worst) per game. While Miles Plumlee has been solid this season, he's picked up eleven personal fouls over his last two games. With Drummond's increased aggressiveness at the offensive end, getting Plumlee into early foul trouble won't be too far-fetched. The Suns are thin in terms of defensive presence at the big man spot outside of Plumlee, making Drummond a wise play Saturday.

Other options: Spencer Hawes (vs. NYK), Jonas Valanciunas (vs. BKN), Marcin Gortat (vs. HOU)

INJURY REPORT

Out for Season
Derrick Rose (knee)
Brook Lopez (foot)
Jeff Taylor (Achilles)

Out
Russell Westbrook (knee) is out until after the All-Star break.
Deron Williams (ankle) could return soon but will miss Saturday's game.
Nikola Vucevic (concussion) isn't with the team on their current road trip.
Rajon Rondo (knee) is getting better and could return to action within a month.
Jrue Holiday (leg) is out without a timetable to return.
Ryan Anderson (back) is out without a timetable to return.
Shawn Marion (shoulder) will not play Saturday with a contusion.
Eric Bledsoe (knee) underwent surgery and is out for four-to-six weeks.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out without a timetable to return.
JaVale McGee (leg) is out without a timetable to return.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) returned to practice but isn't returning Saturday.
Patrick Beverley (hand) is out for a couple more weeks.
Pablo Prigioni (toe) is out for another week or two.
Omer Asik (thigh) is still without a timetable to return.
Devin Harris (toe) expects to return in a few weeks.

Game-Time Decision
Arron Afflalo (ankle) had X-rays taken on his foot and ankle and is a game-time decision.
Tyreke Evans (ankle) aggravated his ankle Friday and is a game-time decision Saturday.
Chandler Parsons (hamstring/knee) is doubtful to play Saturday.
Wilson Chandler (hip) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Jimmy Butler (thigh) sustained a bruised thigh but played through the injury on Friday.
John Henson (ankle) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Tyler Hansbrough (ankle) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Beno Udrih (knee) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Wayne Ellington (illness) is a game-time decision Saturday.
John Henson (ankle) is a game-time decision Saturday.